What is this place? The gamer is told it’s where the dead communicates. It’s dark and damp. A slow and moody soundtrack plays and gives the gamer a certain type of calmness and reassurance that you’re safe in this world. This castle is big. You’re free to roam. Take your time. Upgrade your character. You walk your character around, talk to strangers. Everyone speaks in riddles. The words, names, places, and events these strangers tell you are all foreign. Down in the corner you see a widow. On the left you see an elderly man who has seen too much in his life. Sitting at the corner of the steps you see a young man talking to himself. Out in the middle you see a women dressed in black. What does this all mean? What does he do? He decides to stop asking questions and move on to his mission -- his mission is to survive.
Your movements are slow. You examine your environment and look at every corner. You learn from your past mistakes. The gamers’ hair is starting to grow thin. The sweat is pouring down from the top of this young man’s head. It slowly drips down to his mouth; he can taste it. A disturbing itch arrives on his left shoulder, but the gamer is too immersed to care. The controller is wet as if it was dropped in a pool of water. His eyes are opened wide -- he doesn’t blink. The only movement, besides his fingers, is his right leg; violently shaking but somehow keeping a rhythm. The gamer's mind is devoid of any thoughts of the real world -- he’s only thinking about how he’s going to survive in this world of damp, isolated hallways filled with traps set to kill you. He sees a door. He decides to walk his character there. Then for a moment he stops.
The gamer leaves his character standing alone in this dark Gothic hallway. He ponders. He made it this far. What if he dies? What if it doesn’t go his way? What if this is all for nothing? He’s been playing for an hour and has yet to reach a checkpoint. Checkpoints are only given when the first boss of the world is defeated. Life… it’s so precious. The gamer has learned not to act so swiftly. 8 hours of gameplay has taught him that life should never be taken for granted. You must fight on -- never give up. Such a simple and meaningful message told merely by its gameplay.
The gamer continues to walk towards the door. His movements are slow, so you can barely hear his equipment. He takes out his sword. As he makes his way to the door, he sees glowing red letters on the ground: “Powerful foe ahead” it says. The gamer stares at the three simple words; as if he’s trying to find some hidden meaning. Who put this here? Whoever placed that message of warning puts the gamer in great disarray. He now pauses the game, but remembers the game cannot be paused. Foolishly the gamer presses the home button, but the game is still playing in the background. There is no escape. His only escape is to fight this foe. He drops the controller on his bed. Sits and collects his thoughts. “I don’t want to die,” he says. “I’ve spent too much time getting where I am.” He goes to the bathroom and wets his face with cold water. He looks at himself in the mirror. He walks slowly to the controller, picks it up and begins to move his character. The gamer's body is still. He’s character is almost at the door. One step, two steps… he’s dead. What if death were to close its doors to you...permanently? Would you be disappointed or pleased? Keep in mind, the world changes but you remain constant.
His hand covers his face in disappointment. “I failed” he whispers. All the souls he acquired are now gone. The hours of gameplay is now lost. He sits on his chair. The character is back to this strange castle. He’s once again surrounded by these people. Defeat is not acceptable. The gamer gets up and tries again; he fails, and tries again, only to fail again. He tries again and with his health low, finally defeats the dangerous foe. He finally sees the checkpoint. He raises his hand, touches the sword… I’m alive… I’m alive.